Special Report

Most Popular Restaurants That Won't Reopen After the Pandemic

Source: Courtesy of Dan's Diner via Facebook

Michigan: Dan’s Diner
> Location: Grand Rapids

Built in 1954 in New Jersey — the so-called Diner Capital of the World — and originally called Pal’s Diner, this old-style eatery was moved to Grand Rapids in the early 1990s, becoming Dan’s Diner when chef Dan Chudik bought it in 2018. The diner was able to stay open in the pandemic’s early days, alternating between dine-in and takeout as Michigan restrictions changed, and receiving PPP money to help pay employees. However, when the state issued a new ban on indoor dining on Nov. 18 for a minimum of three weeks, Chudik threw in the towel. “Whether or not shutting down restaurants is right or not, who knows?” he told Michigan Live. “But if we can lower the numbers and keep people from dying, then you got to do what you got to do.”

Source: Courtesy of Bay L. via Yelp

Minnesota: Fuji Ya
> Location: Minneapolis

When Reiko Weston opened Fuji Ya in 1959, it was apparently the first-ever Japanese restaurant in Minnesota. It expanded and spawned offshoots. Weston died in 1988, and two years later the place closed down — until her daughter brought it back to life in 1997. The restaurant shuttered temporarily in early May, but by the end of that month, its website carried the message: “Thank you for your support! Unfortunately we are closing our doors.”

Source: Courtesy of Sam A. via Yelp

Missouri: Cusanelli’s
> Location: St. Louis

Occupying a building that traces its history back two centuries, this institution in the city’s Lemay neighborhood — featuring what it billed as “The Original St. Louis Style Pizza” — opened in 1954. It became a family favorite, and comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page sentimentally recall first dates, birthdays, anniversaries, and other momentous occasions celebrated there. It was also on Facebook that the owners announced that Aug. 30 would be the restaurant’s last night of service, “Due to covid and unforeseen circumstances …”

Source: Courtesy of Nick N. via Yelp

Nevada: Pamplemousse
> Location: Las Vegas

George LaForge emigrated from Paris to Las Vegas in 1962, and after working at the Desert Inn for 11 years he opened a crêperie called The Morning After. Three years later, he launched this more serious place, serving things like escargots, foie gras, and rack of lamb. Eater Las Vegas described it as one of the city’s oldest restaurants (it long predated the appearance of celebrity chef restaurants in the early 1990s) and “a hidden gem for both locals and celebrities alike.” LaForge died in 2019, and late last year, his widow announced that she was closing the place, citing a substantial loss of business after the Las Vegas convention business evaporated due to the pandemic.

Source: Courtesy of Billy T via Yelp

New York: Sammy’s Roumanian
> Location: New York City

This 47-year-old Romanian Jewish restaurant, an iconic establishment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, posted a message on its Instagram page on Jan. 3 reading in part: “It is with great sadness that we announce that the rumors are true and we have had to shut the doors.” Owner David Zimmerman told Gothamist that he plans to reopen the place in another location at some undetermined point in the future, adding in a text message that “We can’t wait and hope to see everyone enjoying latkes, vodka, chopped liver and steaks once again.”